Communication is at the heart of any relationship, whether business or casual. If people don’t say what they’re thinking or how they’re feeling, others have to interpret their actions on their own. This can lead to ineffective communication and missed opportunities.
Ineffective communication can amount in a great expense to your company. Or, in worst cases, even to irrelevant disagreements that could have been avoided if they had been brought up initially. Here’s what you need to know about the cost of poor communication and how you can improve it.
What is ineffective communication
Ineffective communication occurs when the intended message for the recipient is interpreted in a way that is different from its original meaning. The message was not delivered clearly or effectively, causing the recipient to misunderstand it. As such, ineffective communication is a failure to effectively convey words, thoughts, or ideas.
Ineffective communication can manifest itself in many forms. Here are some examples of poor communication:
- Not setting specific goals or tasks for employees
- Communicating in slang or technical verbiage that isn’t understood
- Avoiding the use of deadlines or setting them for unrealistic dates
- Being indirect, close-minded, or interrupting others when they are speaking
- Making assumptions about someone else’s thoughts or opinions
Inadequate communication is often a symptom of poor workplace culture or misplaced dynamics between colleagues. Overcoming substandard communication skills is key. Make sure that staff remains engaged and works towards a common set of ideals. Here are some smart strategies to evade miscommunication at work.
The cost of ineffective communication
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were forced to shift their employees from the office to home. This resulted in a lack of regular, on-site collaboration and a stronger reliance on online tools.
A December 2021 study found that 33 percent of workers found communication to be more of a challenge as a result of moving to a remote work structure. This breaks down to miscommunication in many forms, according to the same study. For example:
- 41 percent of employees find it difficult to know what the current project status is.
- 46 percent of businesses have lost a customer because of poor communication.
- 35 percent of companies lost employees to a competitor due to unclear expectations.
- Only 26 percent of businesses believe their own communication could be rated as excellent.
These are staggering statistics that could have a major negative on employee morale and ultimately on overall business performance.
How to improve workplace communication
If communication is an issue in your workplace, there is a way to fix it. In fact, there are many solutions. Use the strategies below as a starting place for solving your unique communication challenges.
Use a shared calendar
Calendars are a simple and inexpensive (often free) way to fix communication break-downs between colleagues. Most obviously, a shared calendar ensures everyone knows when deadlines and meetings are. In addition, this provide insight into the schedules of their co-workers, making it easier to schedule meetings or collaboration opportunities that work for everyone.
Avoid words or tones that can be misconstrued to mean other things. Instead, be clear and concise when communicating with co-workers and employees.
For example, if a project isn’t completed as you expected, share that feedback clearly and directly. Give specific examples of what was wrong and how you would have liked to see those things done.
Have an open door policy
Let your employees know that your door is always open. They should know that conversations are confidential and you’re available for any conversation.
Encourage workers to approach you if they feel overworked, burnt out, or don’t understand a project.
Promote a strategy for written communication
Written communication can lead to many issues, especially when the words used are misleading. A good way to improve written communication in the workplace is to develop a set of standards. For example, you could suggest that each email:
- Uses examples without too much jargon
- Is direct in what the individual is seeking to accomplish
- Incorporates deadlines for an expected response
Guidelines distributed throughout a workplace can help ensure that employees are mindful when composing emails. In turn, this will reduce the potential for miscommunication.
Address ineffective communication
Don’t let miscommunication go unaddressed and risk setbacks and poor workplace morale. Instead, use these strategies to turn poor communication into good communication. Make sure everyone is heard, on the same page, and able to share freely and openly.
With great communication as the backbone of your company culture, the employees and business alike will thrive.